Author: Skip Moen
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6Isaiah 9:6
English: World English Bible - WEB
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Eternal Father – Did you think that Jesus was the first to call God “Father”? Were you taught that the God of the Old Testament was a stern, fearsome and unapproachable monarch? If you are under the impression that Jesus was the one who changed our view of God from Lawgiver to Sin Forgiver, then you never really understood the meaning of abi-ad. In the middle of this child’s name, the Hebrew word combination abi-ad signifies more than Eternal Father. It tells us about the character of God and about the Messiah who comes as the fulfillment of these qualities.
Abi-ad combines the word ab (father) with the word ad (perpetual, continuing, eternal). Often this second word (ad) is found in conjunction with olam, meaning “forever and ever” or “everlasting.” Behind this designation is the theological idea of trust in the character and promises of God. Ad is the context for trusting God. I can trust Him forever because His promises are irrevocable.
Followers of the Messiah proclaim God’s eternal promises. We put our hope in what God says will come to pass. We believe His word. But often the circumstances of life seem to deny God’s claims. Often we are left with the question, “Why should I trust you, God?”
The name abi-ad gives us the answer to this important question. Abi-ad tells us why we can trust Him. In ancient Semitic cultures, the father’s responsibility for the welfare of the family and all those who depended on him included provision, protection and promises like inheritance and destiny. God as Father insures that all of these requirements will be accomplished eternally. The abi-ad is more than a figurehead or a propagator. The abi-ad plays a crucial role in the continuation of the entire family line, and, of course, with God that line goes on forever. Of His kingdom there will be no end.
When Isaiah uses the term abi-ad, he is not employing a special, technical, theological term. He is using a word combination that anchors God’s actions and promises in the center of family life – right where the Child is born. This Child, the one who is the Abi-Ad, comes to us in the most ordinary way. But He comes with the mantle of the Father Forever, with all the consummate responsibilities, obligations and abilities that belong to the Father of all Mankind.
This Child is the namesake and, consequently, the exact identity of the Father Forever. He secures the irrevocable promise of the Father by bringing that promise to its fully revealed existence.
Worship is the only appropriate response.